I passed the RD exam on January 2, 2014 and that means I have officially been a registered dietitian for 1 full year! I can’t believe it has been that long… time flies when you’re having fun
I have an older post all about my journey to becoming a registered dietitian, but here is the abbreviated version: I got my degree in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise in 2008 but initially didn’t complete a didactic program in dietetics (the accredited course load to be eligible to complete a dietetic internship). I worked as a school nutritionist until 2011, and then spent 3 years doing everything I needed to do to be able to sit for the RD exam. I still worked in the schools during that time so my life was crazy busy.
Steps to becoming an RD:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree
- Complete accredited dietetics program
- Complete a 1200-hour dietetic internship
- Pass the RD exam
So now that it has been a year, what are my thoughts on the entire process?
Becoming a registered dietitian was an important step in my career and I am absolutely 100% happy that I completed the process.
I learned a lot during my internship. I was honestly dreading completing my dietetic internship because I thought of the process as a formality for someone in my professional situation. I had initially planned on sticking with child nutrition and I felt like 5 years of work experience was much more valuable than 1200 hours interning.
While I definitely had a lot of knowledge about food service, completing my internship was humbling and showed me that you can never stop learning new things. I went from thinking the internship was a waste for me to feeling like no one should be able to practice nutrition without becoming a registered dietitian. And most importantly, by being exposed to other areas of nutrition, I realized mayyyyyyybe working in school food service was not the best fit for me.
I have easier/better access to research. This is mainly through also being a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I like being able to read the most recent research and also follow plans for new research. This is definitely not something I paid as much attention to before I became an RD (because I was stuck in my child nutrition bubble).
I understand the nutrition code of ethics. Part of my dietetic internship stressed the ethical aspect of giving nutrition advice to others. This means, as an RD, we must give unbiased advice supported by nutritional research. This is something I always think about when I write nutrition-related blog posts. Sometimes I read blogs out there and just kind of scratch my head wondering where the poster got his/her information. I want my nutrition posts to say, “here are the facts: you should make your own decision.” I also learned that part of dietitians’ continue education units have to be related to ethics (which I need to work on, by the way!).
I have greater job options. I was limited professional by working in nutrition without actually being a registered dietitian. I had worked in school food service and had experience planning menus, but was obviously not considered to be as qualified to do menu planning and nutrition education when compared to others with the same work experience who also had their RD. I could have switched to working with WIC (not all of their nutritionists are required to have an RD) but would have been limited in my growth there as well. Becoming an RD has opened many doors for me
More professional connections! I love meeting other RDs and learning about their jobs. I also feel like sometimes we are kind of quirky in certain ways, and I like being around people who understand my quirks. I know other RDs out there will know what I mean by that!
I have more opportunities to help people. Something that I didn’t exactly love about being a school menu planner is that I felt like I wasn’t really making a difference to anyone. Now, I know this isn’t true because I was working with the free and reduced meal program, but it was easy to feel this way when I felt like all I ever did was field complains about the menu (too costly! too labor intensive! not healthy enough! too healthy, add more chicken nuggets!). I really love working in clinical where I have the opportunity to feel like I’m helping people every single day. It’s great
So, 1 year later, what piece of advice would I give to someone thinking about working in a nutrition-related field?
Definitely plan on getting your RD. You will not regret it!
Jen @ Pretty Little Grub says
Glad to hear you love being a RD. It’s pretty great, especially the first time you get to write those initals behind your name!
Yes, I remember that moment! I updated my email signature and work and thought I was hot stuff, lol.
Kristina @ Blog About Running says
I loved this post so much! That’s so great to hear that you are loving your job. I love marketing but I sometimes wish I had gone into a field that directly helps people. I think that’s one of the downsides to choosing your career at 18 years old. Going into college I had different interests and a different vision for my life than I do now at 28. College should start at 25 years old :) lol
I completely agree with you! I did not even realize I wanted to be an RD until after I finished grad school. I don’t think high school and college put enough emphasis on how to go about choosing your career path.
I definitely can relate to the quirkyness of being and RD :)
Miss Nutralicious says
Happy 1-year RD anniversary! I’m going to hit the 5 year mark this summer. The time goes by so quickly. It’s a great gig! ;)
Thanks! Congrats on your upcoming anniversary as well :) I agree that it’s a great gig, especially because there are so many avenues you can go in your career.
Liv @ Healthy Liv says
Being an RA seems like an awesome job! Good for you, Sam!
I love nutrition but I’m not a big fan of taking science classes, so it’s not the job for me :)
Thank you! Yeah, the curriculum for getting your RD is very science-based. Thinking about organic chemistry still makes me cringe a little bit :)
Your blog is my very favorite to read! I’ve been a silent fan for MONTHS now. My story is kindof similar to yours in that I considered nursing school (actually, got accepted after degree #1 and declined acceptance a whole two months before starting). And now I’m on the road to becoming an RD after being declared in remission from Crohn’s! Hooray for new years and new beginnings :). Thank you for being so encouraging and entertaining, and congrats to you on your one year anniversary of being a super RD!!
Stacey- wow, thank you so much for the sweet comment! It sounds like we have a lot in common :) Congratulations on being in remission from Crohn’s. That is amazing and I am so happy for you!! Best wishes to you for a fantastic 2015!